Sweden Cinematography – from the 1980s to the Early 21st Century
In the 1980s the Svenska Filminstitutet showed signs of recovery thanks to the new president Klas Olofsson, who was able to reorganize the institution’s activities and invest in large-scale projects. It was under his direction that Bergman made Fanny och Alexander (1982; Fanny & Alexander). In 1982 some important innovations were introduced: the tax on the rental and sale of videotapes, which was paid in full to the Svenska Filminstitutet and amounted to several tens of millions of crowns a year; the replacement of the jury that allocated the quality awards with a jury that limited itself to awarding the Swedish ‘Oscars’, the Guldbaggen (“Golden Rams”). When Olofsson agreed to take over the presidency of Sandrews, which intended to re-dedicate itself to film production, his successor was Ingrid Edström, who had the difficult – and in many ways impossible – task of restoring an international dimension to Swedish cinema. In fact, without major authors and with modest productions, the Sweden closed itself more and more in itself, addressing itself exclusively to the local public with films of a decidedly current genre even if, at times, rewarded by good collections. Gösta Ekman, son of Hasse, relied on his qualities as a comic actor and won over a million spectators with Morrhår och ärtor (Mustache and peas), which he himself directed, and Jönssonligan dyker upp (Check the Jönsson Band) by Mikael Ekman, both from 1986. Similar were the comedies of Lasse Åberg, who played a young man struggling with a possessive mother but able to conquer beautiful girls. Great success they met, for example, his films Sällskapsresan (1980, Organized Journey) and Sällskapsresan II (1985, Organized Journey II). The deep economic recession that hit the Sweden at the beginning of the nineties, undermining the social democratic model of government, also had serious consequences on cinema, transmitting to producers a substantial lack of confidence in the future. Svenska Filminstitutet in 1992 withdrew from production. The decision was welcomed as many producers had, for decades, raised doubts about the ‘conflict of interest’ that this activity could inevitably generate. The most interesting aspect of Swedish cinema since the 1980s is undoubtedly its fondness for children’s films, by this term we mean both productions specifically intended for an audience of very young people, and films that have children or adolescents as protagonists. For many decades the social democratic governments had invested a lot, from an ideological point of view, in the future of the country, often tending to erase the past, a past that had seen the Sweden gradually lose its territorial domains and impoverish itself, forcing hundreds of thousands of people. to emigration.
According to topmbadirectory, the crisis of the Eighties and Nineties led a people without a national history to try to recover at least the individual one. Works such as Mitt liv som hund (1985; My life on all fours) by Lasse Hallström – winner of the Oscar for best foreign film -, Hjälten (1990, L ‘ hero) by Agneta Fagerström-Olsson, Söndagsbarn (1992, The Son of Sundays) by Daniel Bergman – written by his father Ingmar – and Kådisbellan (1993, Slingshot) by Åke Sandgren. Lukas Moodysson, for his part, achieved extraordinary success in 1998 with the comedy Fucking Åmål, the story of two teenagers discovering their homosexuality. The next film, Tillsammans (2000; Together), is set in a hippy community, while Lilja 4-ever (2002) tells the story of two young Russians on their way to Sweden. Unstoppable are the film and television transpositions of the novels and short stories by A. Lindgren, one of the best known and most translated children’s writers in the world. Another deeply felt theme is that of immigration. Starting from the 1950s, the Sweden it had opened its borders to immigrants of various origins, in search of work or political asylum. The first film to tackle the problem was Johan Bergenstråhle’s Jag heter Stelios (1972, My Name is Stelios).
During the eighties and nineties the productions of this genre multiplied. A director attentive to the problem is Suzanne Osten. His Bröderna Mozart (1986, The Mozart brothers) tells the story of a staging of Don Giovanni at the Stockholm Opera made possible above all by the passion and competence of the technical staff, largely made up of immigrants. Tala, det är så mörkt (1992, Speak, it’s dark) expertly investigates the phenomenon of neo-Nazis. Jonas Simma’s Vägvisaren (1992, The Guide), who portrays Freud flyttar hemifrån (1991, Freud Leaving Home) by Suzanne Bier, dedicated to Swedish Jews and the Lapp community. Over the years, some immigrants have approached cinema by becoming directors and sharing their experiences. The first example was Muammer Özer’s Splittring (1984), followed by Ett paradis utan biljard (1991; A paradise without billiards) by the Italian Carlo Barsotti – active mainly in the theater – and by Jalla! Jalla! (2000) by Josef Fares. Since the 1990s there has also been a return to the nostalgic comedy of country life. Great success, for example, was the British Colin Nutley, who in Sweden directed films such as Änglagård (1992; La casa degli angeli), the sequel Änglagård – andra sommaren (1994, La casa degli angeli – second summer) and Under solen (1998, Under the sun). Jägarna (1996, The hunters) by Kjell Sundvall, a detective story set in the north of the country, was seen by over half a million Swedes in the first four months of programming. Among the few directors who have made valuable works in this decade, Troell – who returned home after a long American stay – and Liv Ullmann, who basically abandoned acting to devote himself to directing, should be mentioned. Troell can be considered the critical conscience of contemporary Sweden. His documentary Sagolandet (1988, Il Paese delle fiabe) is certainly the clearest and most merciless analysis of the end of the social democratic dream. Il Capitano (1991), written with the great novelist PO Enquist, reconstructs a brutal murder committed by a couple of Finnish origins. Hamsun (1996) instead demolishes the personality of the famous Norwegian writer who had sympathized with Nazism at the time. Ullmann, on the other hand, after a couple of good Norwegian productions, became the continuer of Bergman’s cinema by staging her scripts. Both Enskilda samtal (1996; Private Conversations) and Trolösa (2000; The Infidel) are works of fine workmanship.